Sunday, May 3, 2009

A little confused, a little excited, and a little uncomfortable

After reading Foucalt and Baudrillard, the title of my blog represents how I feel. Foucalt's writing is intense, and in many ways, I would say right on. I particularly like the notion of "spaces" and yet I am also frustrated by them. Given the more common tendency of theorists to theorize a "better" way, Foucalt leaves us with spaces to be creative and to think of new possibilities. While I understand -absolutely- why Foucalt refuses to provides such an outlook (i.e. Marx' utopia or Wallerstein's world-wide social democracy, or even Habermas' ideal speech communities), I wonder what we are to do with these spaces.

I am also a little on the fence regarding Allen's interpretation Foucalt's conceptualization of power. I usually read Foucalt and see that power is at the heart of his theory - that it exists in relationships, that it exists, yes, in the very mundane ways that we carry on in our life (i.e. self-discipline), yet I like Chafetz' and Kanter's use of power (thus, I am not sure if I disagree with Allen's interpretation or if I just like Chafetz' and Kanter's notion better). In Chafetz', Kanter, and Zucker (1977), power is absolutley recognizeable in a person or at least with an associated office that a person may occupy. For instance, I may not have any power as regular student, but as the President of a club, the office gives me certain powers (this is also very Weberian!). Perhaps, someone can clarify Allen's interpretation of Foucaldian power.....

As for Baudrillard, I am not sure what to make of his theory. The most helpful concept from him is the "sign," and yet I do not see this "sign" as being a particuarly new contribution. I see a lot of Veblen in his work. Maybe someone else saw something I didn't: in that case, what is Baudrillard's greatest insight

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